The Palace Must Burn

  • A “literary lateral entrant”: besides writing, Mercedes Spannagel studies mechanical engineering
  • Shortlisted for the Austrian Debut Prize 2020
  • #4 on Austria's ORF List of Best Books (October 2020) 
  • English sample translation by Jen Calleja and Theodora Danek available


You can’t talk to right-wingers – but what do you do if you are related to them?

In her debut novel – profound, fast-paced, and sardonically witty – Mercedes Spannagel tells the story of the corrupt right-wing elite and their rebellious offspring: Luise is the daughter of the right-wing conservative president of Austria. When the latter gets her ninth greyhound, Luise brings a pug she calls Marx into their home - the Palace. She throws the guns of the presidential hunting party into the pool, wallpapers the tea room with articles about the crimes of the Chinese government, and when her mother tries to set her up with a member of a student fraternity, who proudly shows her the scar above his eyebrow, she exclaims: “Fighting duels is menstrual envy!” 

With her friends, Luise roams the streets of Vienna, making plans to overthrow the government. An art event at the opera ball is supposed to change the country – but things don’t go quite as planned. The Palace Must Burn is a sharp-sighted and incredibly funny story about resistance in a deeply divided society. A fiery debut that introduces a new, unmistakable voice to contemporary German literature.

"A bold book that can be read less as a warning sign than as a glaringly refreshing wake-up call." – Galore Literatur

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Sample Translations
  • Publisher: Kiepenheuer&Witsch
  • Release: 10.09.2020
  • 192 pages
  • ISBN: 978-3-462-05509-2
Cover Download Das Palais muss brennen
Das Palais muss brennen
Ingo Pertramer

Mercedes Spannagel

Mercedes Spannagel, born in 1995, studies mechanical engineering in Vienna. She has received various prizes for her texts, including the Exile Youth Literature Prize Vienna 2014, participated in various writing workshops, and has also published works in anthologies and literary journals.